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COLORADO CROSS-DISABILITY COALITION: The LEADER in Disability Rights
In Memory of Kevin Williams
The Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition and the disability rights and legal communities lost a hero when Kevin Williams passed Tuesday evening, February 6.
Kevin founded CCDC’s Legal Program directly out of law school in early 1997 and, in that position, crafted a central and powerful part of the disability rights enforcement effort in Colorado. Throughout his 26 years of leadership, the Legal Program grew and flourished. He brought numerous groundbreaking cases, often harnessing the power of CCDC as an organizational plaintiff, other times acting as class counsel for an influential class action. Early in his tenure, he brought in an Impact Fund grant to create a disability rights testing program that was able to proactively investigate and respond to ADA violations in Denver.
Kevin’s work increased access for people with disabilities in so many areas, including several major chains of stores and restaurants, at least two regional public transit systems, numerous theaters and arenas, and paths of travel in cities in Colorado and elsewhere. He advocated for disabled people under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act, and the Fair Housing Act, and was a compelling and hilarious teacher and lecturer on these subjects. He worked with many other attorneys and organizations around the country who benefitted from his wisdom and humor.
Kevin’s work as an advocate for disability access started with a bang when, as a third year law student, he brilliantly and passionately advocated for his own law school to comply with the ADA, and then, shortly before graduation, took the courageous step of suing the school, securing long-overdue access improvements and an accessible graduation site.
In several cases, Kevin started as a plaintiff, asserting his own rights, and later represented others against the same defendants advocating for their rights. It took a couple of tries, for example, for Red Rocks Amphitheatre to provide accessible parking, seating, and ticketing — first in Williams v. Denver, in which Kevin was the plaintiff, and later in Lucas v. Denver, in which Kevin represented his fellow disability rights Rockstar Carrie Ann Lucas.
Kevin was also a mentor to many young lawyers, including disability rights powerhouse lawyers Carrie Ann Lucas, Andrew Montoya, and Chris Brock.
Although Kevin considered the place where he grew up, the eastern suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio, a great place to be from, he made Colorado his home starting in 1990, coincidentally the same year that the Americans with Disabilities Act was enacted. He was an enthusiastic fan of Colorado’s mountain drives, concert venues large and small, music festivals, and local brewing and distilling industries.
Most important, Kevin was a truly wonderful colleague, co-counsel, and friend. His sense of humor was legendary, including his unforgettable rendition of “Let Us Pee,” to the tune of “Let It Be.”
When I find myself in times of trouble,
the bathroom door is two-foot three.
Whisper words of wisdom,
Let us pee, let us pee.
Kevin graduated from the University of Colorado Denver in 1993, and the University of Denver College of Law (now the Sturm College of Law) in 1996. He received numerous awards for his influential work, including the Order of St. Ives from Denver Law; the Liberty Bell Award from the Denver Bar Association; the Penfield W. Tate, II, Freedom Award from African American Voice; the Impact Fund Celebrating Impact Award; the Ralph Carr Award from the ACLU of Colorado; and three awards over 26 years from CCDC: the Peter C. Robertson Civil Rights Advocacy Award; the Paul A. Bilzi Access Award; and the Laura Hershey Pen is Mightier Than the Sword Award.
Kevin is survived by his brother, stepmother, cousins, and myriad friends and colleagues who will miss him immensely. Family and friends will gather to celebrate Kevin’s life at a date later this year. CCDC will provide date and location information when we have it.
Donations in Kevin’s honor may be made to:
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The Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition, or CCDC, is Colorado’s premier disability rights advocacy organization. We are run by and for people with disabilities. We advocate for social justice for Coloradans with all types of disabilities. We strive for all Coloradans with disabilities to live full, equitable lives with equal access to any civic, professional, and/or personal opportunities that are available to people without disabilities.
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